The Discovery Engine Program

graphic depicting the discovery engine program process


Our latest awardee is Michael Holcomb from the Jamieson Lab! He receives $75,000 to purchase a dedicated, multi-GPU node on BioHPC for 24/7 GPU computing. This will facilitate his efforts to study novel methods for ensembling open-source language models and improve their performance in a distributed computing environment. Congratulations, Mike!


What is it?

A program designed to foster ideas and provide a sheltered environment to test these ideas with real funding. We seek proposals that go beyond the applicant mentor’s research premise in new directions.

Who can apply?

Any NON-FACULTY member of the Lyda Hill Department of Bioinformatics, non-faculty lab members of PIs with secondary appointments in Bioinformatics, and graduate students of the Computational Biology program.

What should you submit?

  1. A single page document that addresses each of the four questions below. Formatting: Page margins 0.5 inches on all sides, 11-point Arial font, single spaced.

    • What is the idea? 
      Criteria to bear in mind:
      - Idea should be your own, without influence or contribution from your mentor.
      - Should be distinct from but may build on current research.
      - Should not have been submitted to any non-departmental UTSW or external funding opportunities.

    • What possible discovery will come from it? (End goal)

    • Who will care about this discovery? (Audience, impact and significance)

    • Why are you the first to have this idea? (Rationale)
      How was the idea formed? Why has your mentor not pursued this direction of research? What propelled your thinking in this new direction?

  2. A budget [no page limit].

  3. Justification of your budget [no page limit].

  4. Endorsement from your PI and each of your collaborators. Each MUST contain statements of feasibility of proposed project and a testimonial of independence. 
    Formatting: each endorsement restricted to half page, 0.5 inch margins on all sides, 11-point Arial font, single-spaced. For example, if you have 2 collaborators, you would submit 1.5 pages total containing 3 endorsement statements. If you have no collaborators, you would submit a half page endorsement statement from your PI.

You may email these materials to Prapti Mody. Please collate documents in above specified order in one PDF.

Deadlines (cutoff 11.59 PM)

June 1, 2024
November 1, 2024
March 1, 2025

Applications will be screened by primary Bioinformatics faculty (Tenured/Tenure-track, Research-Track faculty at rank of Assistant Professor and higher, and UTSW Distinguished Fellow). All applications will be reviewed for idea soundness and financial feasibility. If necessary, a pitch session will be arranged. Decision and commitment letters will be sent out within one month after deadlines.

Successful Awards 

March 2024

Gang-of-N Decoding – Inference-Time Ensembling of Large Language Models
Submitted by Michael Holcomb, MS (Jamieson Lab)

Study novel methods for ensembling open-source language models and improve their performance in a distributed computing environment.

June 2023

A Bright Future: introducing light-based allosteric control to cytochrome p450
Submitted by James McCormick, PhD (Reynolds Lab)

Engineer allosteric control into a domain of cytochrome p450 to enable rapid & reversible inactivation of an entire protein system with light. The system would be a broad customizable tool for numerous downstream manipulations.

March 2023

Developing platelet profiling-based diagnosis tools for Alzheimer's Disease 
Submitted by Muhammed Sadik Yildiz, PhD (Toprak Lab)

Use platelet-based RNA sequencing initially followed by machine learning-empowered diagnostics for quantitative assessment of Alzheimer's disease prognosis & prediction of treatment outcomes.